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The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century Paperback – May 1 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (May 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345439899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345439895
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #820,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

It's not merely a task that's thankless--it's impossible. How can you hope to pick out the best of anything, let alone from such a contentious category as SF (and military SF, at that)? But this 13-story collection really does pull together at least some of the best short stories penned for the genre in the last century. Thanks to editors Harry Turtledove and Martin H. Greenberg, you'll find some of science fiction's biggest names--and most influential shorts--in this expertly chosen anthology.

Chronologically, the entries range from '50s pieces like Philip K. Dick's "Second Variety" and Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" to more modern ruminations on war like "The Scapegoat" by C.J. Cherryh and "To the Storming Gulf" by Gregory Benford. But rather than quality (all these stories are of inarguable pedigree) or even breadth, what might recommend these most to readers new to them are the ideas and other works they later inspired: Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonrider" and Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" both gave rise to phenomenally successful series, Joe W. Haldeman's "Hero" preceded The Forever War, and Philip K. Dick's "Second Variety" became the SF thriller Screamers. The collection also gives you a glimpse of what dark thoughts were rattling around the heads of prolific writers like David Drake and George R.R. Martin in the '70s. --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century, edited by Harry Turtledove with Martin H. Greenberg, musters 13 tales by such top brass of this popular subgenre as Orson Scott Card, David Drake, George R.R. Martin, Arthur C. Clarke and editor Turtledove, who provides an introduction. SF military addicts won't need a direct order to seize a copy of this one.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
This was my first jump into Science Fiction in about 10 years and I was hoping to get a taste of a genre I havn't really explored before. While many of the stories were great, to say this is a collection of pure military stories is a stretch.
"Hero", a story of a unit preparing for absolute zero battle, was an interesting story that left me wanting more, and it's ending left if wide open.
"Ender's Game" ends up being a something of a philisophical excercise in responsibility in wartime.
One has to question why "The Last Article" and "Dragonrider" where in the book. They were good stories but TLA belongs to alternate history and Dragons fighting Threads, while a good story, it isn't what you would expect from a collection of stories about the military.
Ultimately, many of the stories fall short because they seemed like they belonged in a SF magazine and I would almost suggest searching out the full length versions these stories if they exist because I left feeling a bit unfulfilled.
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Format: Paperback
While the thirteen stories in this volume are, for the most part, well done, a couple aren't really military SF at all and others are glimpses into still better works by the same authors. A couple aren't even strong enough to be considered in a "best of" collection.
There are some gems here. Orson Scott Card's classic "Ender's Game" definitely deserves to be a volume with this title. I highly recommend the novel-length expansion of the story and it's sequels (most notably the companion novel, "Ender's Shadow" and "Shadow of the Hegemon"). David Drake's "Hangman" is an excellent introduction to his Hammer's Slammers series which also requires inclusion in a volume such as this. Walter Jon Williams's "Wolf Time" is one of the best stories in the volume, taking place in the same universe as "Voice of the Whirlwind". And Joe Haldeman expanded "Hero" to become "Forever War" (and its sequels).
Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonrider" was, likewise, the beginning of a large franchise, but it's inclusion as an example of military SF is quite a stretch. Similarly, Harry Turtledove's "The Last Article" is an excellent story, but it would have fit much better in his "best alternate history" collection than in this volume.
Other classics include Poul Anderson's "Among Thieves" (an intro to his Polesotechnic League universe), Philip K. Dick's "Second Variety" (recently made, like so many of his stories, into a movie), and C. J. Cherryh's "The Scapegoat". I also enjoyed George R. R. Martin's "Night of the Vampyres".
Gregory Benford's "To the Storming Gulf" is not military at all; it would, instead, fit quite nicely in a collection of post-apocalyptic fiction.
While touted by some as a classic, I have never been impressed with Cordwainer Smith's "The Game of Rat and Dragon". And Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" is merely clever. Any number of other stories could have replaced either of these tales in a "best of" volume.
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Format: Paperback
This is sort of the companion volume to _Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century,_ and it has some of the same problems. There are thirteen stories in this collection, including some that are quite good, but are these really the "best"? Gregory Benford's "To the Storming Gulf" is particularly weak, especially the last section, and "Wolf Time" is far from Walter Jon Williams's best. Poul Anderson's "Among Thieves" is a true classic, though, as are "The Game of Rat and Dragon," by Cordwainer Smith, and Phil Dick's "Second Variety." As in the Alternate History volume, Turtledove seems to have difficulty with his definitions. "Wolf Time" is about an assassin, not warfare. George R. R. Martin's "Night of the Vampyres" is about political revolution with an only vaguely military element. And I can't see classifying McCaffrey's "Dragonrider" as military fiction at all. Finally (also as in the other volume), there are several novelette-length pieces -- Joe Haldeman's "Hero" (which became _The Forever War_), Card's "Ender?s Game" (which also became a novel), McCaffrey's "Dragonrider" (ditto), and C. J. Cherryh's "The Scapegoat" -- which should have been omitted in favor of twice that many additional short stories. This anthology could have been much better thought out.
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Format: Paperback
"The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century" contains 13 stories spread out over 544 pages of text. At least two of them, Joe Haldeman's "Hero" and Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" were later expanded into full length novels. Editor Harry Turtledove's "The Last Article" falls more into the "Alternate History" category (a volume of which he also recently edited), but the saga of Ghandi's attempt to free his native India from Nazi occupation is still quite compelling. Superbly chilling is Phillip K. Dick's, "Second Variety," and its scary post-apocalyptic battlefield. One can see that this is where the idea for the "Terminator" movies came from.
The rest are more of a mixed bag. Gregory Benford's "To the Storming Gulf" is a decent post nuclear war saga, while Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" is an excellent philisophical war story. Some of the others are less compelling. Anne McCaffrey's novella "Dragonrider," for example, takes up over 100 pages, and is more of a fantasy story than military science fiction.
Overall, this is a decent collection, worthwhile for fans of these types of stories. I would recommend it with the caveat that you can skip over any of the tales that are not to your taste.
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